20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Jude is seeking to instruct his readers on how to approach apostates. Before a believer can approach apostates or false teachers they have to be grounded in Christ. A Christian who is not prepared, uneducated, or weak in their faith cannot help those who are opposing Christ. Now the Spirit can guide and use anyone but Jude is instructing these believers to be prepared.
A Christian should be actively growing in these areas:
A Christian will not be glorifying God if they aren’t growing in these areas. These fundamentals in our faith are a must! If you are not growing in these areas then I would encourage you to examine whether or not your actually a Christian. To neglect these 4 areas or to place no value on them is wrong. To make the claim that you are a “Christian” and not pursue these is a mockery of God.
Jude focuses on the believer’s heart and what it should be pursuing before he instructs them on dealing with others. Just as in Matthew 7:1-5, we cannot address someone else’s sin if we refuse to deal with our own sin.
How do we build ourselves up in the faith? I think its clear throughout scripture that its God’s word primarily that builds up our faith. Faith is believing in a set of facts and scripture is inerrant and God breathed. Reading and memorizing scripture largely adds to one’s faith and changes our hearts. It equips our minds with Christ honoring desires and prepares it for battle. The only weapon used in our armor is the sword of truth (Eph 6). It divides the thoughts and intents of our hearts in a powerful way.
If you need a fantastic book on defending the faith Josh McDowell has a book called: The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. I recommend it for anyone needing a more solid understanding of the Christian faith.
Jude also mentions prayer as our communication tool with God himself. We have the amazing privilege of coming before God’s throne and talk with him. We no longer need priests because Christ is our mediator and the veil was torn in the temple once Christ died. The veil signifying our separation from God but Jesus giving us the ability to approach God through his blood and sacrifice. What an amazing gift given to us who don’t deserve it!
Next Jude states “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” Keeping is a Greek term that means to guard, reserve, or to stay within a certain state. For a believer to continue to love God one must be obedient to his word. One must become a living sacrifice, giving up selfish desires and replacing them with God-given desires. In the Psalms it states:
Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
This doesn’t mean that if you have warm fuzzies about God that he will give you whatever you want. It means that when God becomes the love of your life that he will change your heart to desire the things that honor him. This means that we cultivate a relationship with him through doing things that please him.
Finally Jude explains that an anticipation for Christ’s return should grip our hearts. We should have an overwhelming love for Christ that we crave his presence. We hope in his return and our eternal rest being with him. We focus on Christ and everything else becomes a burr.
After Jude has set the stage for a believer to be able to approach the false teacher he is then ready for action. He now seems to make a distinction between people groups; one group being more sincere doubters and the second group being deeper in unbelief. Some people have legitimate questions concerning our faith and we need to address them with compassion. Others are of greater urgency to pull them out of their deception and address their doctrine. You see correcting these teachings that people have latched onto is hard, sensitive, and frustrating at times. We need to approach the deceived with the goal of addressing their hearts. At times we need to address their intellect before we can reach their heart. It’s our responsibility to act against false teaching.
Pray for truth to be taught in our churches. Pray that God would soften the hearts of those deceived. Pray that Gods word would have an effectual work in our lives and then in their lives. False teaching has a powerful influence and it is dangerous for us to get close to but Jude reminds us to rest in God. We will look at Jude’s doxology next time.
With Great Love and Truth,